Lowestoft sailor Asher preparing for Rio

Nic Asher.

Nic Asher. - Credit: Archant

Lowestoft sailor Nic Asher is relishing the challenge of a new boat and a new team-mate as he continues his long road to Rio at this week's Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth and Portland.

The two-time world champion in the 470 class made the switch to the high performance 49er skiff at the end of last year in a quest for Rio gold, and is sailing with a new crew, Fynn Sterritt, after splitting from long-term sailing partner Elliot Willis, with whom he won his two world titles.

While Willis has remained in the 470 class, pairing up with double Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers, the 28-year-old Asher has been enjoying the challenge of a taming a faster, more unstable and more agile boat.

'Our season is going well so far this year,' Asher explained. 'We are a new partnership and started sailing together in December, and trained hard out in Murcia at the beginning of the year before doing the world circuit where we competed at our first event in Palma together in April.

'It's going really well, we have been improving at every event, which is pleasing. At the event in Holland a few weeks ago we ended up 14th and now we are preparing for Sail for Gold where our aim is to continue to improve.'

The Sail for Gold Regatta sees more than 200 sailors from 22 nations competing for honours in eight Olympic and two Paralympic classes on the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic waters of Weymouth and Portland.

For Asher and Sterritt, the event marks a final opportunity for racing before their European Championships in Denmark at the beginning of July, with their World Championships at Marseilles also on the near horizon in September.

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'We're not too sure of our aims [for this week] to be honest,' said Asher.

'It's a different fleet as there aren't that many boats here, but we really just want to work on our starting and just getting to grips with the 49er racing really as it's very different to what we have both experienced before. We are just still trying to figure out what works in each condition really.

'We would love to podium at the worlds, but at the moment I think that is a little unrealistic – a top 10 would be great. If we work hard over the next few months, really push ourselves then I think that is probably achievable – fingers crossed.'

The Sail for Gold Regatta, part of the five-stage EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup series, takes place at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy with the final medal races for all classes on Thursday.